Thesis Title: The Enemy of Christ: Figures of Men and Monstrosity in Ideological Fantasy
Supervisor: Professor Laura Ashe
My DPhil focuses on demonization in literature, questioning how representations of the Enemy of Christ in medieval English romance were influenced by the historical and literary cultures of their production.
Terms associated with the devil – fiend, for example – are commonly used as signifiers of alterity within these texts, and have been interchangeably applied to representations of foreignness and monstrosity in popular literature. My project explores how differential characterisations of human and fantasy figures reflect contemporary attitudes towards Christian identities, eking out the dividing line between human, monster and self in the ideologically turbulent history of the Middle Ages.
My methodology combines historical, literary, and codicological research in order to develop better understandings of demonization as a medieval literary practice. At this stage in my project, I am focusing on the comparative reading of ‘ancestral’ romances with intertextual lineages that extend from the 13th to late 15th centuries, and tracking the development of Enemy of Christ characterisations through manuscript variations